London: A woman’s menstrual cycle not only causes period pain, it also affects the severity of respiratory symptoms, potentially worsening conditions such as asthma, according to Norwegian researchers.
A study involving almost 4,000 women has found worse symptoms around ovulation.
All the women studied had regular menstrual cycles lasting 28 days or less, and none were taking hormonal contraceptives. Of those studied, 28.5 percent were smokers and 8 percent had been diagnosed with asthma.
Researchers found that wheezing symptoms got worse between days 10 to 22 of cycles, with a slight dip near the point of ovulation for most.
Shortness of breath was worse on days seven to 21, again with a slight fall around ovulation.
The study found it was not just women diagnosed with asthma who experienced these symptoms and variations.
Coughing was worse following ovulation for those with asthma, those who were overweight and smokers.
Throughout, levels of different hormones rise and fall - and body temperature rises around ovulation and the researchers suggested that these fluctuations might have direct effects on airways and indirect effects on inflammatory responses to infection.
“We found that respiratory symptoms varied significantly during the menstrual cycle. There were large changes in symptom incidence through the cycle for all symptoms,” the BBC quoted the researchers led by Dr Ferenc Macsali, of the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, as writing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
They also found “pronounced” symptom variations during the menstrual cycle in women with asthma, and said the findings suggest women might need tailored medication regimes.
“Adjustment of asthma medication to the menstrual cycle may potentially improve the efficacy of asthma treatment and reduce disability and health costs related to asthma in women,” they suggested.
Dr Macsali added: “Our results point to the potential for individualising therapy for respiratory diseases according to individual symptom patterns.
“Adjusting asthma medication, for example, according to a woman’s menstrual cycle might improve its efficacy and help reduce disability and the costs of care,” he stated.